Monday, October 18, 2010
More transparency and control over location
(Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog)
We’ve always focused on offering people the most relevant results. Location is one important factor we’ve used for many years to customize the information that you find. For example, if you’re searching for great restaurants, you probably want to find ones near you, so we use location information to show you places nearby.
Today we’re moving your location setting to the left-hand panel of the results page to make it easier for you to see and control your preferences. With this new display you’re still getting the same locally relevant results as before, but now it’s much easier for you to see your location setting and make changes to it.
We do our best to automatically detect the most useful location, but we don’t always get it right—so in some cases you’ll want to change the setting. At other times, you may want to change your location to explore information relevant to another area. For example, let’s say you’re at work in Mountain View and you’re making plans to see a movie in San Francisco (a common occurrence here at Google). You can change your location to “San Francisco” and search for [showtimes] to find movie listings in San Francisco or search for [restaurants] to find places to eat before the show. Similarly, if you’re planning a trip to Hawaii, you can change the location to “Honolulu” and start exploring the [weather], [hotels] and of course the [beaches]. The location you set can be as specific as a particular zip code or as general as an entire country, but more specific settings generally lead to better search results.
You used to be able to see and control your location settings, but it was a little clunky. To see your settings, you could click “View customizations” on the results page and to modify them you could click “Change location” next to a variety of search results, such as maps and movie listings. As time has gone by, more and more locally relevant information has come online, whether it’s local business listings or a blog from your hometown. Meanwhile, Google has become much better at presenting this locally relevant content—so it felt like the right time to make this setting easier to find.
The new interface is rolling out now and will be available in more than 40 languages soon. We’re not changing anything about how we use location information to improve search, so it doesn’t change our existing privacy policies. To learn more about our new interface and how we use location in search, check out our help center.